Cubs Drop Angels at Fitch Park
Logan Watkins had three hits and scored twice, leading the EXST Cubs to an 8-3 victory over the EXST Angels in a pre-planned ten-inning Extended Spring Training game at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in hot & sunny Mesa, AZ.
Now 19, Watkins was the Cubs 21st round pick in the 2008 draft out of Goddard HS (Goddard, KS), where he starred on both the football team (played QB) and baseball team (played SS), and the Cubs were able to convince him to give up his baseball scholarship to Wichita State only because they offered him "3rd round money" to turn pro.
While the left-handed hitting and right-handed throwing Watkins has played SS, 2B, LF, and CF since signing with the Cubs, he appears to be the protypical second-baseman, with a strong and accurate arm, but with an almost sidearm arm slot, perfect for slinging the ball to 1st base while straddling 2nd base as the middle-man in a DP.
The extra inning was added to the game to allow Cubs and Angels pitchers to get extra work, since weekly EXST "Camp Day" intrasquad games are no longer being scheduled.
Also, it turns out Iowa Cubs RHP Justin Berg (on the DL with a right shoulder strain since mid-April) did not leave town yesterday. He is still at EXST, rehabbing his shoulder, and in fact he pitched another inning today (24 pitches), as a follow-up to his one-inning (16 pitches) of work at Papago Park in Phoenix on Thursday. Berg got ground balls with his hard-sinker again today (per usual), but his command was off, resulting in him allowing two runs on two hits and a walk in 2/3 of an inning (and the inning was terminated with only two outs when Berg reached his proscribed pitch count).
While the Cubs were battling the Angels on Field #3, RHPs Carlos Rojas and Julio Castillo faced-off in a two-inning simulated game on Field #2, facing Jose Valdez, Sean Williams, Jesus Morelli, and Jericho Jones,
Castillo (AKA "Animal") is from the back jungles of the Dominican Republic (near the border with Haiti), and he is a legend among Cubs minor leaguers as the guy who captured a wild desert rat at the Padres minor league facility in Peoria, Arizona, a couple of years ago, and then kept the rodent as a pet for the summer while he pitched for the AZL Cubs.
Presently on the Restricted List while awaiting final disposition of criminal charges filed against him in Ohio as the result of throwing a baseball at a fan during a brawl in Dayton last August while a member of the Peoria Chiefs. Castillo is one of the hardest throwers in the Cubs system (with a fastball that routinely clocks at 95+), so the Cubs are not necessarily in a hurry to discharge Animal from the organization. He has the type of power stuff (fastball & slider) that could make him a potential big-time set-up man or closer someday (that is, as long as he isn't otherwise occupied serving a lengthy term--and throwing the 9th inning--at the Ohio State Penitentiary).
The only other item of note is that C-3B-1B-DH John Contreras is missing from camp, perhaps because he has moved up to Peoria, which has only one healthy catcher available on its roster (that one being Michael Brenly). Contreras is already 23, and he was converted to catcher this season (he still plays 3B and 1B, too, however) after leading the AZL in home runs in 2008. So he would seem to be the type of player (probably too old for Boise, but needs an opportunity to play at a higher level) who would get the call as a mid-season injury replacement in Peoria or Daytona. (Daytona catcher Robinson Chirinos has a broken hand, and so Luis Flores has been moved up from Peoria to Daytona).
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only)...
1. Hak-Ju Lee, DH #1: 1-5 (1B, L-4, 4-3, F-7 DP, K - 1 R, 1 SB)
2. Matt Cerda, C-DH: 2-4 (1B, 4-3, 2B, E-3 - 1 R)
3. Jae-Hoon Ha, CF: 0-4 (6-3, E-6, 6-3, K)
4. Chris Weimer, 1B: 0-4 (L-8, P-1, L-6, K)
5. Sean Hoorelbeke, LF: 2-3 (6-3, HBP, 1B, 1B - 2 R)
6. Jose Guevara, DH-C: 0-2 (5-3, K, BB, BB - 1 R)
7. Logan Watkins, SS: 3-4 (2B, 1B, 1B, 4-3 - 2 R)
8. Kevin Soto, RF: 2-3 (6-3, 1B, HBP, 1B - 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB)
9. Robert Bautista, 3B: 0-4 (1-3, K, 4-3, K - 1 RBI)
10. Jose Made, 2B: 0-3 (1-3, E-4, BB, 1-3)
1. Justin Berg - 0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 2/0 GO/FO, 24 pitches (16 strikes)
2. Miguel Sierra - 3.0 IP, 4 H,1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 2 WP, 5/3 GO/FO
3. Toby Matchulat - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 1/2 GO/FO
4. Su-Min Jung - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 3/3 GO/FO
5. Manolin DeLeon - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GO/FO
1. Matt Cerda - 0-2 CS, 1 PB
2. Jose Guevara - 1-2 CS
Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, AJackson, Montero, Castro, Hendricks, Russell
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.